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Airbnb opening up homes for tropical storm Barry evacuees

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -Airbnb is offering places to stay for tropical storm Barry evacuees. The company activating its Open Homes program today.

The Open Homes program recruits Airbnb hosts, who are willing to provide free housing for displaced residents and disaster relief workers. As Tropical Storm Barry approaches, the available homes are in southern Louisiana, parts of Texas and in Alabama. Airbnb says hosts have a history of opening their homes for those in need.

"It’s a way that our hosts are able to give back. Many of them want to do this. We have a huge community of generous hosts who want to open their homes particularly for those in their greatest time of need. And we find that evacuations typically are that moment,” Kellie Bentz, the head of Airbnb’s Global Disaster Response and Relief said.

You can find available homes at www.airbnb.com/stormbarry. The program will be available through July 31st.

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Where is rent going up fastest in Alabama?

Where is rent going up fastest in Alabama?

Elliot Njus/Staff

A sign advertises apartments for rent.

The average rent for an apartment in Alabama is increasing, but not as fast as the national average, according to an analysis by RentCafé.

Using data from Yardi Matrix, an apartment information service, RentCafé found the communities in Alabama were rent is increasing the fastest. To begin with, the national average rent for May in the United States is $1,442 per month, which is $35 more than last year. Over the past year, the average rent nationally has increased about 2.5 percent, which indicates a slow increase.

Look at Alabama’s cities, and you can see where the action is.

Out of the state’s largest cities, the fastest growing rents in May were in Madison, where rental apartment prices increased by 9.4 percent over the year for an average of $932. That’s $80 more than a year ago.

In Vestavia Hills though, rent increased by 11 percent over the past year. ·

The slowest rising rents in May were in Birmingham, which is the third most expensive large rental market in Alabama. Here, that national average of a 2.5 percent increase showed up. Average rent is $968 a month.

In Auburn, apartment rents jumped 7.9 percent over the year, the second highest annual increase, making for an average price of $1,221. Over the past five years, rents in Auburn have increased by almost 20 percent. That would win the Iron Bowl of apartment rentals, (depending on whose keeping track) as Tuscaloosa’s average rent is $1,087, up $40 over last year and $114 over the last five years.

Let’s say you’d like to save your pennies. Decatur has the cheapest rents in its state with an average of $549 per month, an increase of 2.8 percent over the year. The rent average there has remained unchanged for the last five years, according to RentCafé.

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Design Concept Approved For Birmingham’s Protective Stadium

Design Concept Approved For Birmingham’s Protective Stadium

The design concept for Birmingham’s new stadium have been approved. (BJCC)

BIRMINGHAM, AL — While the naysayers may still not believe it, a new stadium really is being built in downtown Birmingham, and the design concept and site plan for that stadium was approved Wednesday by the Birmingham Design Review Committee. Protective Stadium will seat 45,000 people and will be home to UAB football and other events.

The concept features some historic ties to Birmingham, such as a scoreboard tower that has similarities to the original tower at Legion Field, according to a report by the Birmingham Business Journal. The front entrance features removable security, allowing people to move around freely and utilize some spaces when games aren’t taking place.

The final design will be up for approval at a later date, and the stadium and structures that are part of it may change as the design team continues to develop the look.

Bidding recently opened for a mass grading contract that will be awarded at the BJCC Authority’s next meeting on June 19. Once that contract is awarded, dirt will start being moved at the stadium site.

Ground was broken for the stadium in December of 2018, and is supposed to open in time for the 2021 World Games. and the 2021 UAB football season.

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Funding for the stadium has come from a variety of sources. The Birmingham City Council in March of last year voted to approve a resolution that would commit $90 million over 30 years toward the new stadium. The city’s pledge added to the BJCC Authority’s $10.7 million to the annual debt service on the project. The Jefferson County Commissison has committed $1 million a year for 30 years.

UAB and corporate partners have committed to a combined $4 million a year for 10 years through a lease agreement, sponsorship and naming rights. The state legislature also approved a bill that would use car rental tax funds to help pay for the stadium.

In addition to UAB football games, the new stadium also opens the door for events such as neutral site college football games, concerts and other events.

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25-year-old Birmingham man identified as city’s 44th homicide victim this year

Corderrius Rashad Henderson

Authorities have released the name of a man found shot to death early Friday outside a southwest Birmingham apartment complex.

Birmingham police identified the victim as Corderrius Rashad Henderson. He was 25 and lived in the Deer Park apartment complex near where he was found.

West Precinct officers responded about 5:45 a.m. to the 100 block of 17th Street S.W. after Shot Spotter – the city’s gunfire detection system – alerted them to shots fired in the area. Once they arrived on the scene, they found Henderson wounded on the ground. He was pronounced dead on the scene by Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service.

One slain Friday in southwest Birmingham

Birmingham police received the first call about the incident from the city’s ShotSpotter system.

Through the day, Birmingham police radios broadcast a suspect description of three masked men. As of Friday afternoon, no one had been arrested.

Henderson is Birmingham’s 44th homicide victim of 2019. Of those, at least seven have been ruled justifiable and therefore are not deemed criminal by the Birmingham Police Department. In all of Jefferson County, there have been 64 homicides, including the 44 in Birmingham.

Anyone with information on Henderson’s slaying is asked to call Birmingham police homicide investigators at 205-254-1764 or Crime Stoppers at 205-254-7777.

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Family found for 39-year-old man found dead in Birmingham motel

Family found for 39-year-old man found dead in Birmingham motel

Update: Family has been found.

Earlier Story: Authorities are trying to locate family members of a man found dead in a Birmingham motel earlier this month.

Darron Rarnard Stone, 39, was discovered May 3 at the Budget Motel on Bankhead Highway. His body is ready to be released for burial, but Jefferson County Coroner’s officials have been unable to find his next of kin to notify them of his death.

Stone, who was from the Birmingham area but did not have a permanent address, had been renting a room at the motel. He was supposed to check out that Friday but when checkout time came and went, workers went to his room. He was found unresponsive on his bed and pronounced dead at 11:18 a.m.

Yates said they do not suspect foul play in his death. He was last known to be alive on May 2.

Stone’s mother died in 2015, and he had told people his father also had passed away. His mother and other family members are believed to have lived in the northern Birmingham/ Forestdale area.

Yates said they believe Stone still has a sister in the Birmingham area of northeast Jefferson County. They have not been able to make contact with her.

Family members are asked to call the coroner’s office at 205-930-3603.

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South Florida Real Estate Firm Sells Office Buildings in Birmingham…

South Florida Real Estate Firm Sells Office Buildings in Birmingham…

We are excited that after over four years of ownership we were able to grow the property’s net operating income while maintaining occupancy well into the 90’s with quality tenants

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (PRWEB)
April 23, 2019

PointOne Holdings, a real estate investment firm with offices in Hollywood Florida and Atlanta Georgia, in Partnership with Biscayne Atlantic announced the sale of the 1800 and 1900 International Park buildings located in Birmingham Alabama. The two class A office buildings, encompassing approximately 153,000 square feet, sold on February 22 for $34.5 million.

PointOne Holdings was represented by Kevin Markwordt of Transwestern.

The two buildings were originally acquired as part of the three-building Birmingham Portfolio, which also includes Blue Lake. PointOne Holdings has opted to retain the Blue Lake building as there is still significant value to be created through the lease-up of the current vacant space.

According to the Birmingham Business Journal, “The transaction is significant because it adds yet another office investment transaction in the Birmingham metro area, which has seen several prominent buildings trade in the last few years. It’s also an example of the strength of the Interstate 459/U.S. 280 office submarket.”

In addition to the Blue Lake building, in Birmingham PointOne Holdings also owns and operates Riverchase Center, an institutional quality, single story office complex, encompassing over 300,000 square feet of office containing a dynamic, diversified, and nationally recognized tenant roster.

“We really enjoyed owning and operating these assets and are both proud of the overall results to our investors and the caliber of tenants left in place at the buildings,” said Ben Colonomos, managing member of Pointone Holdings.

“Birmingham and the 280/459 corridor have remained very attractive in terms of both performance and investor demand,” said Ben Small, managing member of Biscayne Atlantic. “We are excited that after over four years of ownership we were able to grow the property’s net operating income while maintaining occupancy well into the 90’s with quality tenants.”

About PointOne Holdings:

PointOne Holdings is a real estate investment firm headquartered in South Florida and Atlanta with properties located throughout the Southeastern United States and Texas. The firm owns and manages a diversified portfolio of residential and commercial assets valued in excess of $730 million. PointOne Holdings’ core principles are founded on precise investment selection, thorough due diligence, creative deal structuring, strong financial management and proactive and responsive communication. PointOne Holdings’ principals are seasoned professionals with over 40 years of combined experience who have collectively conducted over $1.9 billion in real estate transactions. For more information visit http://www.pointoneholdings.com

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Birmingham, Alabama: A city using theatres to reinvent itself

Birmingham, Alabama: A city using theatres to reinvent itself

The Lyric theatre’s dramatic makeover has helped reinvigorate downtown Birmingham

"The idea of saving a theatre is so common that it is the plot of the Muppets," jokes Glenny Brock, a resident of Birmingham, Alabama, who left her job as journalist to work full-time on such a project.

She cites a past headline on the satirical news site The Onion: "Community loses interest three days after rallying to save local theater".

Yet in Birmingham’s case, the locals have made it work. Its theatres are undergoing a renaissance.

First came The Lyric, which reopened in 2016 after decades of neglect, then the Alabama Theatre set to work restoring the second of its dazzling, 60ft signs.

Now work on the art-deco Carver Theatre, which served the African-American community, is also under way.

The Alabama Theatre’s interior was renovated in 1998, the exterior signs are still being worked on; it was built in the 1920s for silent movies, hence the Wurlitzer organ on stage

Birmingham, named after the UK city on account of its industrial aspirations, remains best known for being the centre of the country’s civil rights struggles in the 1950s and 1960s, and that is why the restoration of its past, through a modern lens, is seen as so important.

Next in line for a makeover is another abandoned African-American theatre, The Lincoln, in Bessemer, 15 miles (24km) to the city’s south-west.

It has been bought by actor André Holland (Moonlight; Selma; Othello at Shakespeare’s Globe), who grew up in the town and remembers it as an empty shell next to his childhood barbers’ shop.

Moonlight sweeps the awards In pictures: Kenya artist’s London home The architects exiled by Nazis

He says people are really excited about his plans to turn it back into a cinema and arts space, especially as it sits in a predominantly African-American area that feels like it is often left behind.

"It’s good for people – particular young people – to have something to be proud of in their neighbourhood," he says. "The Lincoln was the only movie theatre you could go to [as a black patron in segregated Bessemer]. Everyone who went has memories of it. They remember first dates there, they remember the titles of all the movies they saw."

Interactive See how the Lyric has been transformed
After

Before

The actor picked up the keys a year and a half ago, and is currently still in the early stages of planning its resurrection.

"It looks like someone just locked the door and walked away. The movie reels are still there, there is an old projector," he says, clearly in awe of its history and potential.

London’s Ally Pally theatre restored
The Lyric returns

The Lyric, in downtown Birmingham, has been the most jaw-dropping of the theatrical transformations to date.

For more than 45 years, it was largely abandoned – aside from brief spells of use, including as a retail space and a porn theatre.

To a passerby, it looked like a forgotten corner of standard office block. The birds, bats, rats and cats had moved in, according to Ms Brock, who works for non-profit organisation Birmingham Landmarks, which spearheaded its renovation.

An $11m (£8m) project has brought it back to its full glory, recalling days when its Buster Keaton, Mae West and the Marx Brothers all trod its boards.

The Lyric – which opened in 1914 – as it looked before it was renovated
People used the Lyric’s empty space as a makeshift shopping area during the down years
Interactive Balcony transformation – use the slider to see how it has changed
After

Before

The Lincoln theatre, in Bessemer, is awaiting its turn to shine after being bought by a film star

The Lyric closed in 1960, four years before Birmingham’s segregation law was overridden by the Civil Rights Act. Before then, black patrons had to enter through a separate entrance and sit in the "coloured balcony", way up in the gods.

When restoring the building, the lobby’s separating wall was knocked through and a glass panel was put in to highlight this. An engraving reads: "Historic colored entrance. You are standing before a reminder of Birmingham’s history and the struggle for civil rights".

One city, two theatre scenes

For most of the first half of the 20th Century, Birmingham had more than 20 theatres within five blocks, but they catered to different races.

The Alabama Theatre became open to African Americans after the city’s segregation order was rescinded in 1963

With much of the city out of bounds to black customers, a cluster of streets – now known as Fourth Avenue Historic District – developed as a separate business district, with its own barbers, restaurants and theatres.

"It was an independent economy and ecosystem," says Elijah Davis, who works at Urban Impact Inc, the area’s non-profit development agency. "And it was not razed to the ground in the 70s like many such areas in other places."

Urban Impact was founded 39 years ago by the city’s first black mayor, Richard Arrington. Among other things, it helped the district’s businesses buy their premises from absentee landlords.

Most of the area’s theatres were never black-owned, says Mr Davis.

The Carver’s comeback

In its heyday, Fourth Avenue Historic District’s theatres had four theatres. Two are no longer there, one has been transformed into apartments and the fourth, the Carver Theatre, was bought by the city in 1990.

It is currently closed as its renovation begins and the project is expected to be completed next year.

The Carver Theatre pictured in 1949; it opened in 1935
The Carver has recently been home to the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame museum

The Carver was a thriving venue in its heyday, says Leah Tucker, its executive director. "It was somewhere to get dressed up and feel comfortable."

She says its restoration is important for the African-American community – to show its heritage is worth protecting too – and for all residents and visitors. "Most tourists visit for Birmingham for the civil rights experience. It [the preservation] can help the city."

In 2017, the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument District – including part of Fourth Avenue area – was protected via a proclamation signed by then President Barack Obama.

Remembering the Selma civil rights march
Birmingham reborn

All of the theatre restorations are helping the city move forward.

Ms Brock says the Lyric’s restoration has led to businesses – from a hip coffee shop to a ramen bar – springing up around it, and new apartments are making the downtown area an appealing place to live.

The 2011 inauguration of Railroad Park, which transformed industrial space into parkland, was also another key marker in this apparent turnaround, while the ever-expanding University of Alabama at Birmingham is also bringing new investment and more downtown residents.

However, architecturally, the city still mourns the lose of its grand, Byzantine-inspired train station, which was demolished in 1969. "That is like a civic wound," says Ms Brock, adding that Lyric presented "an incredible opportunity to get things right".

Birmingham terminal station, circa 1940

Mr Davis agrees that the new Lyric is a "hallmark" of downtown revitalisation. "And we also have buildings that are really able to subvert ideas on what African Americans were able to accomplish in Jim Crow times in the south."

He said there was a lot of excitement brewing around the long-awaited new Carver.

"Birmingham is very much wrestling with the type of city it wants to be," he says, referring to issues of gentrification and displacement. "But contrary to other cities of its size, it is probably having the right conversations early on."

All photographs subject to copyright

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RealtySouth agents adopt apartment to benefit families through Red Mountain Grace

RealtySouth agents adopt apartment to benefit families through Red Mountain Grace

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – It was supposed to be a routine pregnancy checkup for Brett Lesley. Instead, it was news hard to bear.

“So instead of finding out if I was going to have a boy or a girl, I found out my little girl had a hole in her heart. So, we were referred to a specialist,” says Lesley.

Isla was born without a thymus, or basically without an immune system. Also, a cleft lip, club foot and many other complications.

But they heard about Red Mountain Grace, which offers affordable apartments for families needing to relocate to Birmingham temporarily for medical care. They drove an hour from their home in Albertville. Isla’s had two open-heart surgeries, esophageal surgeries and finally a thymus transplant.

“It was very helpful to have people around me that were immediate family," says Lesley. "It’s like I’ve known these women forever. It’s not like an apartment you go and you borrowing this, it’s like staying at your aunt’s house, you know?”

“Being at a hospital room all day, every day can really start wearing on you. The beeps and the chirps from the machines and stuff, it just can become overwhelming. The ability to come back to an apartment that is warm and welcoming and safe just means the world to our families,” says Ashley Weaver with Red Mountain Grace.

“This year we wanted to make a difference within the community. And you know, getting an award and being recognized for being a leader in your field is great, but seeing this apartment on site and knowing that we had a hand in providing this for a needy family, it’s just so much more valuable,” says John Franklin with RealtySouth.

“You walk in and you have furniture, and your bed is made and there are pictures on the wall and it’s one thing I didn’t have to worry about. One huge thing I didn’t have to worry about, was a home for her, for my daughter. Her first home,” says Lesley.

We learned Isla’s transplant was successful. Red Mountain Grace has 22 apartments across Birmingham. You can contact them at 866-656-9064

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‘God is good’: Man convicted in killing of Birmingham mother

‘God is good’: Man convicted in killing of Birmingham mother

A 27-year-old man was convicted Friday in the 2017 shooting death of a Birmingham mother who was killed outside of her apartment while talking with a friend.

A Jefferson County jury found Quandarius Frazier guilty of murder in the July 30, 2017 slaying of Stephanie “Nikki” Loyde, 33. He was also convicted of attempted murder in the wounding of Luther Ikner. Police have also charged him with intimidating a witness, claiming he threatened Ikner about testifying against him.

“Today I feel so blessed because I have closure,’’ said Loyde’s mother, Priscilla Levins. “It’s been a long couple of years, but I just never gave up. I kept the faith."

Levins also lost her son – 29-year-old Kenneth Scott – to homicide. Scott was shot on a Saturday morning in December 2015 in Birmingham’s Tom Brown Village public housing community. A Trussville man charged with capital murder in Scott’s slaying took his own life last year just two months before he was to go to trial in the case.

Loyde’s sister, Tonisha Levins, said it’s been a tough couple of years for the family. “Our family and her (Stephanie’s) daughter have been through a lot with losing my brother and my sister,’’ she said. “We are finally happy to have some closure.”

Loyde was shot about at 9:30 p.m. that Sunday at Sunrise Pointe apartments off of Oporto-Madrid Boulevard. Officers responded to the complex on a report of someone possibly shot multiple times.

They arrived to find Loyde and Ikner both suffering from gunshot wounds. Ikner, shot in the face at the bottom of a stairwell, was taken to UAB Hospital with life-threatening injuries. Loyde was found in a nearby grassy area with a gunshot wound to the body. She was pronounced dead on the scene less than a half hour later.

Witnesses that night said Loyde and Ikner were at their cars talking when Frazier approached them and said, "There you are. I got you. " There was an exchange of words and at least two shots rang out.

Woman, 33, killed in Sunday-night Birmingham shooting identified

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as Stephanie Loyde, who had a young teen daughter. Loyd’s brother was slain in Birmingham less than two years ago.

Levins said trial testimony indicated that Frazier and Ikner were acquaintances. There had been a previous incident between Frazier, a woman and Ikner. “Stephanie was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” her mother said.

Levins said she had just gotten into bed that Sunday night when she received a phone call from her sister, who never called that late, asking if she had talked to her daughter. Levins said she had spoken with Loyde just hours earlier, and that’s when Levins’ sister told her she had seen on Facebook that there was a shooting at Sunrise Poine and said she had not been able to get in touch with Loyde.

Levins threw on some clothes and rushed to the apartment complex, calling her daughter over and over along the way with no success. When she got there, she found yellow crime scene tape around her daughter’s first-floor apartment and a mosaic of blue flashing lights. She pleaded with police to let her go find her daughter and granddaughter, but they told her to stay where she was for the time being. Several police officers asked her for her daughter’s name and for a photo of Loyde and, eventually, a frantic Levins dashed under the police tape and followed officers to her daughter’s apartment.

The officer knocked on the door, and Levins heard her then -11-year-old granddaughter, Destiny, shout, "Mama, somebody’s at the door,” Levins said. "When I heard her say, ‘Mama,’ I was a little relieved."

Destiny opened the door and told police that her mother was in bed. The officer asked Destiny to take her to her mother’s bedroom, but it was then they found Loyde wasn’t there. "She must have got up and went out the door,” Destiny told her grandmother and the police.

6-year-old calls 911 to report mom’s death in northwest Jefferson County

Sheriff’s deputies responded about 3:30 a.m. to a home in the 7800 block of Robbins Circle in the northwest Jefferson County community of Bagley. Once on the scene, they found the woman dead. She is believed to be 32 years old.

Loyde worked as a certified nursing assistant until she had to go on disability for her rheumatoid arthritis. Destiny has previously said she was a devoted mother, who took her to school every day, went on every field trip and threw her great birthday parties at school with pizza and cake and bubbles. They often got their nails done together, and Loyde even took Destiny to a spa.

"I loved my mama so much,” Destiny said shortly after her mother’s death. "She did so much stuff for me. When she got some money, she’d go to Red Box to get me a movie. I loved her so much. I’m the only child she got, and I miss her so much. I pray for her, and I wish she was here."

Levins said her granddaughter is still in counseling over her mother’s death but is doing well. “When I woke her up this morning, she said, ‘We’re going to have something to celebrate today,’ and guess what? She was right,’’ Levins said. “Today is going to be a great day for her.”

Destiny wrote Frazier a letter this week that read, in part, “If you would have met my mother, you would have loved her because she was a friend to everybody.”

“That’s the kind of heart my granddaughter has instilled in her from her mother,’’ Levins said.

Sentencing for Frazier has been set for May 9 before Jefferson County Circuit Judge Clyde Jones. Frazier, who has been out on bond, was booked back into the Jefferson County Jail Friday and is now held without bond.

“It’s not a great day because Quandarius Frazer has three boys and they have to go on without their father for a while but a least they can visit him. We can’t visit Stephanie,’’ Levins said. “Both families are losing people they loved, but I’m happy my granddaughter doesn’t have to worry about it anymore.”

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